I had an amazing experience this morning.
Let me rewind a hair.
Or...oh...14 or so hairs...er...years.
I was 16 years old. My parents had quit going to church b'c the church they had been going to forever was going thru some issues and there was not other church around that met their "needs". (Thank you, Lord for delivering them from that frame of mind.)
Anyway, a friend of mine invited me to First Assembly of God in Heber Springs. I had believed all my life that I was saved and was excited to learn a new realm of 'religion'. And that's where I met him.
Not Jesus (I would encounter Him soon enough), but a wonderful picture of Him.
His name was Sam.
Sam was like nothing I had ever seen. He wasn't the typical let's-just-pump-you-up-to-have-fun youth pastor. He wasn't the typical brow-beater youth pastor. He wasn't the typical boring youth pastor.
He was Sam.
And he loved me.
He was dynamic and fun and serious about God and exciting and encouraging and challenging and hard on us and soft on us and an example that we all strove to be like.
And he loved us. He loved me.
The messed up...hard life...stubborn...confused...wretched 16-year-old me.
This morning...14 years later (11 years since I last saw him) I knew one thing...
He still loves me.
Providentially, God has moved my in-laws to this little church in a seedy neighborhood in Texarkana.
And their pastor? Sam Martinez.
He was at a large church in NW Arkansas when he knew that God had called him to Texarkana. But there was nothing there for him. But he knew. So one day when he got the call about a church in Texarkana, there was no question. He took this little church with only about 12 people left in the congregation. It's growing now and let me tell you...
...He loves them too.
I don't think these people know exactly what they have.
I watched him this morning thru sobs. Sobs of understanding that God is so providential and loving that even while I was in my early phases of the regeneration process, He placed Sam in my life. Sobs of wanting to pack up my family and move to Texarkana just so I can be near him again and sit under his instruction. Sobs of hope and prayer that thru this faithful man this small body will grow...not necessarily in numbers but spiritually, because that matters much more to God.
It was funny that he preached on "Please Pass the Salt" this morning. And how we should be so full of salt that people around us get thirsty.
Because, He WAS salt to me...
...and I Thirst no more...
...and am now blessed to be salt to others.
"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."